Thousands of people took part Sunday in a protest organized by Malta's conservative opposition against an alleged corruption scandal involving two top officials from the island's Socialist administration.

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil called a rally after the chief of staff of Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and a member of his government were accused of setting up secret companies in Panama and trusts in New Zealand. 

"What people are witnessing today is not normal and [is] unacceptable in a democratic, European country," Busuttil told the crowd, calling on Muscat to fire his aide, Keith Schembri, as well as Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi.

Panama is known as a tax haven, meaning that the companies registered in the country are not subject to outside scrutiny, allowing for the possibility to hide assets and bank accounts and, therefore, evade tax.

Busuttil also said a government policy of granting residence permits or visas to wealthy foreigners amounted to bribery, and noted that a rich foreigner had obtained a large tract of land on the densely populated island just by meeting the prime minister.

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